Women’s health services are an important part of community health,
by Jill Fries
May 12 to 18 is the fourteenth annual National Women’s Health Week. This national observance is celebrated across the United States in various ways from families honoring the women in their lives to communities holding health fairs focusing on the various aspects of women’s health.
Why all the attention focused on women’s health? Women often are the caregivers for their families and now more than previous generations, women are sandwiched between meeting the needs of their children and the needs of their parents. A woman generally puts the needs of her spouse, partner, children and parents before her own.
As a result, she forgets to make her own annual appointment or follow up on her own health care. She can’t squeeze it in between running the children to after school events and picking up mom to take her to her cancer follow-up appointment. Sound familiar?
As a community, however, we have a responsibility to support the women in our lives, whether it’s gently urging our friends to make that annual appointment or keep the follow-up appointment. If the women in our lives are not allowed the space and time to take care of themselves, we will all pay a price for that.
The Marquette County Health Department has services to help you in the endeavor of self-care, like that annual appointment you’ve been putting off because you lost your health insurance, or you don’t think it’s important, or you feel fine.
Cervical cancer is one of those cancers that by the time you feel any symptoms, it’s usually at an advanced stage. Nobody should die from cervical cancer and yet every year women do. The reasons may include that the patient did not think anything was wrong, she did not have time, she lost her job, or she lost her insurance. Take the time to make that annual appointment. Take the time to take care of yourself.
For women between the ages of forty to sixty-five there is the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program.
For those who meet the income guidelines listed below, we offer these on an annual basis: clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, Pap tests, and if needed, follow-up colposcopy and breast consultation.
Some of the benefits of using these services include that there is no cost to clients for service; care coordination assistance; education and explanation of procedures and results. Patients are notified of results and receive follow up with a clinic professional.
One in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life. More than seventy-five percent of breast cancers are found in women ages fifty and older. More than 150 women die of cervical cancer in Michigan every year––a cancer that when diagnosed early is one hundred percent curable.
For women under the age of forty, the Marquette County Health Department Family Planning program offers general health assessments, screening, contraception, pregnancy testing, client and community education, and follow-up and referrals for health issues.
The family planning program promotes the well-being of families by giving couples the opportunity to time pregnancies when they are best able to care for them. It also maintains women’s health by detecting health problems through routine screening and examination.
The Marquette County Health Department accepts payment for family planning services by the following: insurance (private, plan-first, or Medicaid), a sliding fee scale and donations. Call 475-7844 for an appointment.
Another program focusing on women’s health through proper nutrition is WIC, or the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Food Program.
WIC is a food and nutrition program designed to help correct or prevent malnutrition in low-income pregnant and breast-feeding women, women who recently had a baby, infants and children up to five who are at health risk due to inadequate nutrition. The Marquette County Health Department delivers WIC benefits to participants.
Those eligible for WIC are pregnant and breastfeeding women or women who have recently had a baby and infants from birth to one year, and children from ages one to five who are Michigan residents, income eligible, determined by clinic staff in local agencies to be at nutrition or health risk. Call 475-7846 for a WIC appointment.
In honor of National Women’s Health Week, take the time to make the annual appointment you’ve been putting off or encourage your friend or loved one to do so. If a healthy lifestyle is a challenge, find a buddy to walk with or check-in with on a regular basis. If you are feeling “stressed out”––take stock: Are any of your stressors out of your control? If so, can you change how you feel about that stressor?
Are there any of your stressors that you have the ability to change? If so, try to address one of those items for one month. And last, but not least of these is find something to be grateful for every day.
Experts in the “happiness” field recommend identifying five things every day to be thankful. Sometimes when it’s a bad day, being thankful that particular day is coming to an end and that there will be another new, wonderful day the following sunrise is enough.
The National Women’s Health website at womenshealth.org has a wealth of information and resources to assist women in beginning the process of self-care. Here are the highlights of proactive items that may be helpful:
• Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings
• Get active
• Eat healthy
• Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress
• Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet